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Bus policies under review after complaints

Posted August 4, 2008

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— Wake County schools have responded to recent complaints about bus service by taking another look at the policies drivers use to make sure students get where they are going.

The district is working on a new system to track younger students, to make sure they get on and off the bus at the right stop.

“We can have 99.9-percent accuracy and that is not good enough. We want to maintain – earn and maintain the trust of our parents,” said Don Haydon, the district's chief facilities and operations officer.

In a letter to Superintendent Del Burns, Haydon called for a revaluation of the school transportation system, including:

  • Policies and procedures to be reviewed.
  • Changes to be made where necessary.
  • Parents, educators and bus drivers to have input.

"We want to take a look at the processes to make sure everything is working as good as it can be,” Haydon said.

The revaluation aims to avoid a recurrence of complaints filed by two Wake Forest mothers. They say their elementary students were let off at the wrong bus stop, by mistake, last month.

"I was distraught that my child was lost,” Amanda Medlin said.

Medlin said the bus driver dropped off her 5-year-old son, Austin, four miles from home. It happened on his first day of kindergarten.

For nearly a half-hour, Medlin said her son wandered looking for help. He finally knocked on Nikki Lupton’s door.

“He walked right in and he said, ‘I live far, far away,”” Lupton recalled.

A similar thing happened a week later to Brady McGlohon. A 6-year-old, who attends the same Wake Forest elementary school as Austin.

Brady's bus driver has since retired from the school system. Austin's bus driver is still employed.

"I do not have trust in the school transportation system at all,” Medlin said.

Parents interested in voicing concerns over bus policies should contact the Wake County School Board.

24 Comments

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  • Citizen7265 Aug 5, 2008

    hondaman, teachers often have four or five classes of 30 students (120 students +) in a day, and they are expected to know the students. I would expect o less of the bus driver with approx. 65 students on his/her bus. It is part of the job.

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 5, 2008

    How does local schooling solve the problem?

    It solves the problem by having less time on the bus due to shorter routes, not having islands of assignments were only half-a-dozen kids get off and increases the chances that the bus driver will know where things are. Look at the assignment maps and tell me that plotting bus routes through those is an easy task.

    Simplify everything and focus on the end product - the child's education. This is what we need from WCPSS. They spend so much time, effort and money on peripheral concerns.

  • carolinakhaki Aug 5, 2008

    "Children should go to school near their homes."

    How is that going to solve the problem? If it's not within a reasonable walking/biking/skating, etc. distance, or on a busy road, kids will still be riding buses. There would likely also be a large number of parents who wouldn't want their kids walking/biking/skating, etc. due to their youth (do you think a 5 year old should be walking to school alone?) or because they'd be afraid some nutjob would kidnap their child.

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 5, 2008

    Less busing = less busing mistakes. That is an inescapable truth.

    This may not sound like a good idea, but these are the same thing that have happened every year. Reviews do nothing. Boycott the buses. Car pool, do whatever you can, get your kids off the bus. Only then will changes be made. Why? Because MONEY is tied to those buses and we all know what really talks.

    My kids don't ride the bus and never will. I do transportation research and there have been studies where almost one third of school buses would have been shut down by OSHA because of air quality were they a workplace. The more you know, the less likely you are to put your kids on those yellow cans of death.

  • amedlin2 Aug 5, 2008

    hondaman---
    REALLY???!?!? Why wouldnt you expect for the busdriver to know where students live? or at the least what bus stop they are to get off of? What do you expect the job of a bus driver to be? Are they suppose to drive the bus and just stop periodically? I expect nothing less of any bus driver of any county to know their route and to know which students on the bus get off at each stop. Yes there are a lot of kids BUT THIS IS THEIR JOB! Any person with a job is expected to do their job. Bus drivers are NOT the exception.

  • RonnieR Aug 5, 2008

    hondaman, I would expect the bus driver to know every stop. The young'uns don't pull a cord to tell the driver to stop as they do on city buses.

  • superman Aug 5, 2008

    The parents should discuss plans with their children. What to do if they miss the bus-- who to call, where to go, give the student a small card with your name, address, place of employment and a 100% positive telephone number. Give the student the name of a relative or alternate person to call if they cant reach you. Emergency planning should start at home. Thirty students on the bus and you expect the bus driver to know the bus stop of every person on the bus. You expect too much! A color pin would only identify the school and have nothing to do with the student getting off at the wrong stop.

  • karibritt01 Aug 5, 2008

    Children going to schools close to their homes does not solve the problem. Even if my kids were at the closest school to my house, they would still need to ride the bus. Otherwise, they would have to walk down Hwy 1010 for a mile to reach our neighborhood. And for those who suggest missing work in order to provide transportation... bless you if you are able. Some of us depend on the buses because we have to, not because we choose to. I feel fortunate to have a bus driver that cares about my kids. She has called to let me know what time she will pick the kids up at the start of school. She has also called to let me know my kindergartener fell on the bus and cut her knee. It is not my first choice for my kids to ride the bus, but I do have confidence that their driver is looking out for them.

  • down by the pond Aug 5, 2008

    Need to go back to community schools , where the community, school staff and yes the bus drivers are invested in the safety or our children and know the community.
    That is how i grew up and why i moved out of wake county going on over 3 three years ago.
    Now my children go to community schools, where the teachers live , shop, worship, etc.
    We are a community. i feel sorry for wake county parents who will never experience that.

  • Rick Davout Aug 5, 2008

    The thing that gets me is the complete lack of communication between the transportation centers and the parents. Over the summer, the Apex transportation center changed some bus routes and didn't bother telling anyone. "It was too late." was the excuse. That's just wrong. My son got on the "right" bus, but it took him to the wrong place! Luckily he got the driver to bring him home.

    Why was it too late? They can call everyone in the school system telling them to get the HPV vaccine, even for students that are MALE!; but they can't call you to check the website for updates to the bus schedule? Geez...

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